John T. Christian was born, December 14, 1854, near Lexington, Ky. His family moved to Henry county, Ky., when he was six years old, and there he grew to manhood.
He professed faith in Christ and joined the Campbellsburg church at the age of sixteen, under the preaching of Elder J. H. Spencer, that remarkable man and great preacher, who was loved and honored by Kentucky Baptists for over thirty years.
The stalwart orthodoxy of John T. Christian may be partially accounted for by his coming under the influence, at the very beginning of his religious life, of such a man as J. H. Spencer. Spencer's numerous protracted meetings were BAPTIST meetings. He "shunned not to declare all of the counsel of God," and his converts nearly all joined the church and became useful Baptists.
Dr. Christian was educated at Bethel College, Russellville, Ky., and learned his theology, partially at least, under Dr. W. W. Gardner, than whom a safer, sounder Baptist has not lived in the South.
In June, 1876, he graduated from that college with the Bachelor's Degree, and in 1880 the same institution conferred on him the degree of Master of Arts, and in 1888 the title of Doctor of Divinity.
All of these titles he richly deserves. Keachie College, La., in 1898, pronounced Dr. Christian a LL.D.
Not only have the colleges recognized his ability, but the whole Baptist denomination has been influenced by his ready and powerful pen, and by his skill as a debater. Nobody thinks of Dr. Christian as an ordinary man.
He was licensed to preach by the church at Campbellsburg, Ky., in July, 1876. He became pastor in Tupelo, Miss., beginning in 1877, and served that church two years. He was afterward pastor of Sardis Church, in the same State, and went from there to the First Baptist Church, Chattanooga, Tenn., beginning there March, 1883. Here he preached for three years, and then became Secretary of Missions for Mississippi. In 1893, beginning June 1, he accepted the care of the historic East Church, Louisville, Ky., where he has since preached with great acceptance.
Dr. Christian is a man sought after by the churches, and those who sit under his preaching become stronger Baptists and more aggressive soldiers of the cross.
As an author he has but few equals. His book, entitled, "Immersion, The Act of Christian Baptism," has gone through twelve editions, and is without an equal in that class of, books. As a companion volume is his "Close Communion," which has gone through six editions and still finds a ready sale. "Americanism or Romanism, Which?" is a vigorous attack on Romanism, which has had a wide circulation, and it clearly and forcibly shows the danger American institutions are in from that source. "Did
They Dip?" is a discussion of the practice of English Baptists with regard to baptism prior to the year 1641. This is a valuab1e addition to Baptist history. "Four Theories of Church Government," a neat pamphlet and an able discussion of the theories mentioned. "Heathen and Infidel Testimonies to Jesus Christ," and "Blood of Jesus," are well prepared pamphlets of wide circulation. His latest book is entitled "Baptist History Vindicated." This is the most valuable history published in recent years. Facts, hitherto unknown, or imperfectly known, are brought to light in this able work. It has an "Appendix," entitled, "Testimony of Living Scholars of the Church of England to Immersion." This is a valuable book and should be studied by all who care to know the facts discussed.
No doubt many other books will be written by Dr. Christian during the many years which he shall probably yet live. He is only forty-five, and, if the Lord spares him for thirty or forty years of active service in the future, what may he not accomplish?
The greatest service Dr. Christian has ever rendered to the denomination was his able defence of the Baptists against the attacks of Dr. William H. Whitsitt. The theories and vagaries of Dr. Whitsitt were met, and that without mercy. In that great discussion, Dr. Christian displayed greater familiarity with the facts of history than any other man who took up his pen to write. He seemed to have already investigated every part of the subject, and the ease and strength manifested were a surprise to
all. To read what he had to say was to be convinced that he had been thoroughly over the ground before the question was raised.
His able defence of the Baptists at this most trying time won for him a place in this book and entitled him to the appellation of a "pillar of orthodoxy." His able article following this sketch, on "What Baptists have Done for the World," is worth the price of this volume.
[From Ben M. Bogard, Pillars of Orthodoxy, or Defenders of the Faith, 1900. - jrd]
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